Scar-less Surgery Is The New Black

If you ever need an organ like the gallbladder or appendix removed, the surgeon may ask you to pick an orifice for the removal. Recently, several dozen Americans have undergone experimental operations that don’t cut the skin open. Instead, surgeons enter the patient through a “natural orifice,” like the mouth or vagina. Minimally invasive surgeries made big incisions unnecessary and these procedures could take minimally invasive surgeries to a new level by not requiring an external incision at all. And the procedures seem to cause less pain and speed recovery. When removing a gallbladder or appendix through the mouth, surgeons give the patient a general anesthesia and slide an endoscope down the throat and into the stomach. Then the abdominal area is inflated to make it easier to see and the stomach is sterilized. The endoscope is not only equipped with a camera, but it also has a variety of instruments, like a scalpel that is used to make an incision in the stomach wall, which allows the surgeon to maneuver the endoscope to the gallbladder or appendix. The surgeon uses the other instruments to move the organ, cauterize bleeding blood vessels, suture and clip the internal incisions and pull the organ through the throat and the mouth.

Although no complications have been reported in the 40 or so scar-less surgeries performed in the U.S., doctors do have concerns. The biggest fear is that the incision in the stomach wall could leak, which could lead to life-threatening infections. The other fear is that doctors will rush to perform these surgeries without perfecting their techniques and making sure the benefits outweigh the risks.

I understand patients wanting a quick recovery after surgery, but I’m not sure I’d risk my life in the name of vanity. I have a scar just below my collarbone on the right side from having a port-a-cath installed and removed. I also have a thin bikini line scar that was my little gift after having ovarian cysts removed. And most people don’t even notice that scar. I had the option of having the cysts removed through my belly button, but ever since I saw Trinity remove that tracking device from Neo’s navel in “The Matrix”, I’m not letting anything enter or exit my belly button. I really can’t imagine having something pulled from my abdomen through my throat and out my mouth, neither. I applaud modern medicine for developing new techniques, especially since it’s cured very little since polio, but I realize this type of surgery isn’t for me. Scars are a badge of honor that says, “I’ve persevered through some difficult times.” [Washington Post]